COPING DURING A PANDEMIC
With the rise of coronavirus at the beginning of the year, our social media feeds were suddenly flooded with overwhelming bursts of information. More often than not, this influx of posts and stories created a high-stress environment, where we were not only struggling to keep up with pandemic updates, but new trends that were presented to us under the guise of “productivity” and “the right way to quarantine”. Naturally, this sudden pressure to “not let any time go to waste” only added to the uncertainty and anxiety induced by the pandemic.
It is important to remember that we all respond to stress differently, and that all reactions are valid. We cope according to our individual needs and priorities, which may be different from those of our peers. As we are all collectively adjusting to a new world, mindfulness and compassion are key – not just towards those around you, but towards yourself as well.
Here are some tips that we feel will help you navigate these unpredictable times:
- Know the facts: There’s a surplus of rumors and “breaking news” circulating around the pandemic. Stick to reliable sources only, and take everything else with a grain of salt. If you find yourself falling into an information black-hole – stop. Breathe. Take a step back. Give yourself a time limit for all things pandemic related, so that you don’t get too overwhelmed.
- Have a plan: Corona scares are immensely nerve-racking. However, having a plan, for what to do incase you or your family are experiencing worrying symptoms, will help to curb some of that anxiety. Know where and how to get treatment, don’t only rely on home remedies circulated on social media. Remember to isolate, hydrate, wear your mask and wash your hands!
- Take time to unwind: With everything moving online, a lot of us are spending hours staring at our screens. Set some time away from the internet entirely, and tune in with yourself. Try out meditation, reading, cooking, or any activity that helps you feel good. Don’t feel guilty about not doing anything “productive” during your free time – sometimes, doing nothing is exactly what we need.
- Honor your body: If you’ve been telling yourself you’ll start all those saved Instagram workouts eventually, but never got around to it – don’t sweat it. Incorporating movement and good nutrition into your daily routine does not need to be overly complicated. You don’t need to train hard every day – working around the house, a short 10-minute workout or a brisk 30-minute walk is enough to stay healthy and get that feel good serotonin pumping. You may find your eating habits and sleep schedule changing drastically during this time – do not guilt yourself. Remind yourself that such changes are natural during high-stress periods. Again, planning your day can help regulate these habits, promoting a sense of well-being.
- Focus on what you can control: A spiral of “what-if” thoughts aren’t good for anybody – it leads to a vicious cycle of fear, frustration, anger and hopelessness. Instead of thinking about all the things that could go wrong, start small and think about one thing you can control everyday – be it scheduling a call with a friend, watching a show for a certain amount of time etc. Make it a point to focus on things that excite you and help you relax. Reframing thoughts and redirecting our focus takes time to learn. Acknowledge your feelings, the how and why behind them, and ask yourself: is this true? what is the evidence for this? Imagine consoling a friend who expresses these thoughts to you, what would you say to help them? Come up with some affirmations to put a positive spin on these feelings, and repeat them to yourself when necessary.